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Hungary's Ruling Fidesz Party Quits European Center-Right Bloc

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban at a European People's Party meting in 2018.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban at a European People's Party meting in 2018.

Hungary's ruling nationalist Fidesz party led by Prime Minister Viktor Orban has quit the main pan-European center-right bloc, two weeks after leaving its grouping in the European Parliament.

"It's time to say goodbye," Fidesz Vice Chairwoman Katalin Novak wrote on Twitter, posting a brief letter signed by the party's leaders which said it "no longer wishes to maintain its membership in the European People's Party (EPP), thus resigns."

The move marks Fidesz's definitive break with the EPP, which brings together Europe's main center-right parties and is the biggest single voting bloc in the European Parliament.

It is the party of both Ursula von der Leyen, the head of the European Commission, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Fidesz's decision to quit the parliament grouping earlier this month came immediately after the conservative bloc voted for a change of rules that allows it to suspend Fidesz over its alleged repeated democratic backsliding.

EPP President Donald Tusk reacted with relief to the news on March 18, but added that he would have liked to have seen this step by Fidesz much earlier.

"Fidesz has left Christian Democracy. In truth, it left many years ago," he tweeted.

Orban has called for the creation of a new European right-wing force for "our type of people."

Orban's nationalist policies have been seen as a better fit with smaller European blocs to the right of the EPP, such as the Euroskeptic ECR, which includes Poland's ruling right-wing Law and Justice (PiS), or the right-wing ID, which includes France's National Rally and Italy's far-right League.

Orban has said he was in talks with "the Poles," referring to PiS, as well as Italian right-wing politicians.

With reporting by Reuters, AFP, and dpa
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